The role of the Fatosphere in fat adults' responses to obesity stigma: a model of empowerment without a focus on weight loss
Obese adults face pervasive and repeated weight-based stigma. Few researchers have explored how obese individuals proactively respond to stigma outside of a dominant weight-loss framework. Using a grounded theory approach, we explored the experiences of 44 bloggers within the Fatosphere-an online fat-acceptance community. We investigated participants' pathways into the Fatosphere, how they responded to and interacted with stigma, and how they described the impact of fat acceptance on their health and well-being. The concepts and support associated with the fat-acceptance movement helped participants shift from reactive strategies in responding to stigma (conforming to dominant discourses through weight loss) to proactive responses to resist stigma (reframing "fat" and self-acceptance). Participants perceived that blogging within the Fatosphere led them to feel more empowered. Participants also described the benefits of belonging to a supportive community, and improvements in their health and well-being. The Fatosphere provides an alternative pathway for obese individuals to counter and cope with weight-based stigma.